BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s girls’ varsity soccer team capped an unbeaten regular season with a dramatic come-from-behind win over Parkside on Tuesday to claim the Bayside South championship.
The Seahawks entered Tuesday’s showdown with a chance to clinch the Bayside South and advance to the conference championship game next week. Decatur entered Tuesday’s game with an 11-0-1 record, the only non-win on their schedule a 1-1 tie with Parkside back on October 2. Parkside, meanwhile, was also unbeaten, but had two ties on its record including the tie with Decatur and another tie in its next game with Bennett.
Something had to give when the two powerhouses met at Decatur on Tuesday and for a long time the suspense built. The two teams played to a 0-0 tie in the first half although both had opportunities. Parkside broke through just over six minutes into the second half on a fast-break goal to take a 1-0 lead.
Decatur continued to apply pressure in the Parkside defensive end and had opportunities. At one point, the Parkside goalie charged out of the net to stop a Decatur fast-break and made a great diving stop, but had come out of the box and the Seahawks were awarded an indirect penalty kick. In another opportunity, a Seahawk forward fired a successful shot on a lofted pass, but was ruled offside and the goal was nullified.
Finally, with just over 23 minutes remaining, Decatur got the equalizer on a goal by senior captain Payton VanKirk. VanKirk got behind the defense and had a one-on-one with the Parkside goalie. The Parkside keeper came out, but VanKirk was able to fire a shot past her to tie the game at 1-1.
For the next 14 minutes or so, both teams had opportunities, but the score remained tied as the tension built. With just over nine minutes left in the game, Decatur was awarded a corner kick. Lexi McDonough launched a high shot at the near post and Mallory Vara was able to head it in for the go-ahead goal. The dramatic goal touched off a brief celebration, but there was still much work to be done.
Decatur dug in on defense and repelled several late scoring chances for the Rams until the final horn sounded. The 2-1 win clinched the Bayside South title for Decatur and touched off a celebration including hugs and a few tears, and a cooler dumping on new coach Maggie Berke. With the win, Decatur earned a spot in the Bayside Conference championship game next Tuesday at Wicomico County Stadium against the Bayside North champion.